I thought I’d do some plein air oil sketching while hiking in the Apuani mountains in Italy. Little did I know this was going to be one of the scariest painting trips I’ve ever done! But in the end the painting got done. See what happened.
The Alpi Apuani mountains in northern Tuscany are where the famous Carrara marble used by Michelangelo was quarried. Now these are limestone mountains and the erosion leaves a lot of craggy rocks and peaks. As we approach the final summit I see that the path to the summit goes right across the face of a very steep slope. Right next to the trail was a two thousand foot drop!
Then the worst thing happened. Half way across the rock face I get vertigo. The vari-focus lenses couldn’t cope with focusing on a 2000 foot drop right next to my feet. This was not a good place to have this happen! At one point I was thinking this was it. I couldn’t go backwards and I couldn’t go forwards!
Somehow I made it to the top and decided to take off my glasses. Still quite shook up, I managed to finish a few sketches using my micro pochade setup. Slowly after about an hour my eyes and brain readjusted and the feeling of vertigo got less.
I got the paintings finished and we finally got back down the slope. In places we were on all fours, because one slip of your feet on some loose stones or some fallen leaves and that would be it!
There is nothing like the plein painting experience! I think some of the energy and craziness of that mountain top ended up in the painting. What do you think?
The way to the top.
Doing the sketch.
The final painting: